July 2, 2010 (RIA Novosti) - An expedition to ascertain the borders of Russia's Arctic continental shelf will begin in St. Petersburg on July 15, the expedition's chief said on Friday.
In 2001, Russia was the first of the five Arctic states to file a request to extend its continental shelf border beyond the standard 200-mile limit. The UN turned down the request, citing a lack of evidence to support the claim. Russia has said it will spend some 1.5 billion rubles ($50 million) to define the extent of its continental shelf in the Arctic in 2010.
"At the moment we are refitting the Akademik Fedorov research vessel for the purpose," Vladimir Sokolov said, adding that a multi-beam echo sounder is currently being installed on the ship in Finland.
The Akademik Fedorov will leave Finland on July 8, and arrive in St. Petersburg a day or two later. A total of 75 expedition members will board the ship in the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk a week later.
The journey is expected to take three months, including some 70-75 days in the Arctic.
The vast hydrocarbon deposits that will become more accessible as rising global temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice have brought the Arctic to the center of geopolitical wrangling between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark.